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Guilmant Complete Works


Contrabombarde
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I was looking around for a recording of the complete Guilmant works. I found a three CD set of the sonatas played at Rouen by Ben van Oosten which sounds as authentic as you could get, but then stumbled across a recording of the complete works by Feike Asma, but on an organ built and untouched since the 1730s in the Netherlands. It doesn't seem to be available, and in any case, whilst the Dutch organ may be a masterpiece of its type, is it really suitable for conveying romantic French sonatas? Has anybody heard of it? Are there no other complete recordings to chose from?

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I have the Feike Asma set in an LP box set but confess I haven't played them for a long time, I shall have to get them out again; they were recorded at the Grote Kerk in Maasluis, an instrument by Gerrels (1773) but with much work over the years. The notes are all in Dutch, a language of which I know nothing. There are also a couple of single LPs containing other Guilmant works. As I recall all the performances are extremely good but I suspect that the van Oosten would be more to your taste. Christopher Herrick also recorded them for the BBC on the Van den Heuvel at Katwijk aan Zee, but I can't recall whether they were issued commercially.

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While searching for CDs of Guilmant's 1st Symphony, (what a Final - one of the noblest of its type IMHO) I found this on the MDT Classics site...

 

http://www.mdt.co.uk/MDTSite/pages/search/searchresults.asp

 

...and if you scroll down towards the bottom of the page you'll see the available Motette discs.

 

I have a recording on a "These You Have Loved" style CD from Rouen of the Final from No 1 and would dearly like a recording of the whole thing from there or St. Sulpice.

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What is it with Maassluis and Guilmant? Jaap Kroonenburg, the present organist there, has recorded a fair amount of Guilmant on it.

 

To say that the organ is unchanged since 1773 is not quite true. A synopsis of its history is:

 

1732 New organ by Rudolph Garrels

1773, 1790, 1804 Several changes by Robberts, Wolferts and Heijneman

1840 Restoration by Jonathan Batz

1938 and 1960 Changes by van Leeuwen

1978 Restoration by Pels and van Leeuwen. Addition of Bazuin 32'

 

Compass of both manuals and pedal have been extended (from c''' to g''' and d' to f' respectively).

 

Jaap Kroonenburg played the Chorale and Fugue from Guilmant's Sonata no. 5 when we visited, and it came off very well. But I wouldn't describe it as an authentic sound.

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Many thanks for all this info - sounds like the Rouen is the way to go. Sadly I did have a recording of Christopher Herrick on the van den Heuvel (can't recall if it was BBC branded) but sadly that was in the days of tape and my recorder managed to chew the tape to pieces. I can't even find that recording even listed anywhere now, let alone available as a DVD. Thank goodness for digital recording media...

 

Contrabombarde.

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Hmm... I can't help thinking that a complete Guilmant might be just a little bit too much of a good thing. Depends how sweet a tooth you have, I suppose. :) I admire his technique enormously though.

 

A complete Guilmant would fill an awful lot of CDs. I'd hazard a guess that he was the most prolific organ composer after Bach.

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